Imagine the scariest wasp you’ve ever seen. Then make it scarier and twice the size, then twice the size again. Imagine a sleek, plated, gunmetal-blue body and long blood-orange wings; the shock of an opposing palette. Imagine it buzzing the front porch of my humble arroyo campsite like a military helicopter.
You are imagining a tarantula hawk. This finger-length horror is “not aggressive,” though it boasts the second-most excruciating sting known to man. Fortunately, it is much more interested in nectar. One day, however, it will find interest in a tarantula, which it will temporarily paralyze in order to lay an egg in the unfortunate arachnid’s abdomen. The tarantula will recover from the sting only to be eaten alive from the inside by the wasp’s larva, which will save the vital organs for last, prolonging the tarantula’s life. Yeah, that’s not aggression; it’s pure evil. And super cool in a twisted, I-love-nature kind of way.